The Nation’s Failing Report Card
Test Scores Across the United States on the Decline
January 3, 2023
The Department of Education released the results of the National Assessment of Education on October 23, 2022. The National Assessment of Education is conducted every two years and many are disheartened by the number of students not meeting basic education requirements compared to previous years.
Jaeda Miles (9) blames the study habits that students picked up during the pandemic.
“I think the reason why is because most people during [the pandemic] in early 2020 just sat down all day and didn’t do their work,” Miles said. “So, when it was time to test they were just confused and just guessed.”
These conclusions come from the National Assessment of Education which is often referred to as the “nation’s report card” when hundreds of thousands of fourth and eighth graders were tested this year, this year being the first year since 2019 that this test was administered. Midlothian Heritage principal, Ketura Madison, feels that many of these score falls are due to changes caused by the pandemic.
“For fourth grade, this would be true for eighth graders as well, but fourth graders were in second grade when [Covid-19] hit,” Madison said. “That’s when schools shut down and went hybrid. So a lot of foundational skills are planted in the second grade and also sixth grade because those eighth graders were in sixth grade. They lost a lot of instructional time.”
The scores had already been on the decline before the pandemic but the math scores plummeted in the largest amount since the NAEP began in 1969 unlike the reading scores which dipped slightly. Many find it alarming that 4th grade test scores are some of the scores that are being reduced, including Nathaniel Linkous (12).
“Well, I don’t think it’s very [good] because that’s the future, so it probably won’t get much better if it’s starting that low in fourth grade,” Linkous said.
The test is scored using a zero to 500 point system for English or other English-related subjects, and math or other math-related subjects is scored by a zero to 300. Typically, a one or two point decrease means a drastic decline iin students’ ability to perform in a subject and this year, there was a staggering eight point decline in math.
“I think they’ll come back up after that era of COVID kids leaves and teachers get back to what they used to be doing,” Linkous said.
No state saw any improvement in their scores with the states that did the best testwise barely made their scores from previous years and every state saw score declines in at least one subject. Several major American school districts saw their scores fall more than 10%.
“I think now we will see an increase because now we’re back on a normal school schedule, kids are in school, and they are now getting that,” Madison said. “Teachers are having to meet students where they are but now that we’re back to normal, I think we will see the trend go in a different direction.”
There are also major inequities by race for Black and Hispanic students as there were higher score drops in those demographics than others. Many feel that students have learned to view school differently in the last couple of years, including Breanna Sexton (11).
“It’s increasingly becoming less interesting to go to school and caring enough about what they’re going to do with their future,” Sexton said.